Play-by-play guys, like big-league ballplayers, got their start in the minors, with long bus trips, budget motels and sleeping through off-days not the exception, but the rule.
“It’s about lunchtime out here in in the edges of Northeast Ohio. And that’s part of the journey for minor league baseball players, staff. Everybody goes through it, trying to figure out where all the food is when we go on the road, because we don’t have cars,” said Trey Wilson, the voice of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
Wilson is in his third season calling games for the Squirrels, after a four-year run as the voice of the Altoona Curve, an Eastern League rival.
A native of Portsmouth, the chance to work in Richmond “was a dream opportunity to come back close to home.”
“We always say in baseball, you know, you don’t get to pick where you go. You just kind of have to go where the job is,” Wilson said. “There’s only about 90 of these jobs in the country, actually less than that these days. So, you just have to go where the job is. And I got really lucky that the job is not only in a place that’s close to home for me, but in a place that I really enjoy being.”
Wilson’s official job title is director of communications and broadcasting. He estimates that only about 5 percent of his job is the three hours per night, six nights a week, that you hear him on Squirrels broadcasts.
The other 95 percent of his time is media and public relations, graphic design and social media, and various and sundry responsibilities with travel, accommodations and the like.
“The play-by-play part is probably also 95 percent of the visibility that I have what people know me for doing. So, it’s funny, it’s the part that I enjoy the most, and it’s the part that’s the most notable, I guess, about what I do, but it’s the part that that takes probably the least amount of my time of all the things that I do in this job,” Wilson said.
A season in minor league baseball probably seems like an endless loop of long bus trips, hotel rooms and scrounging for food with brief bursts of baseball in between.
And for Wilson, the past seven springs, summers and early falls have been spent traversing the footprint of the Eastern League, which encompasses Richmond to the south, Akron to the west and up to Portland, Maine, at the tippy-top of the northeast.
“I was just talking with one of our one of members of our staff who’s sitting in the seat next to mine on the bus about you know, at this point, I’ve been in this league for so long, I’m ready to see some new towns,” Wilson said. “You know, Richmond is the best city in this league, not to down into the other towns, but Richmond is great. Portland, Maine, is great. But then you know, there’s a lot of a lot of places where we stay like 30 minutes outside of where the ballpark is out in the suburbs somewhere. So, we’re just getting used to seeing a whole lot of strip malls and in grocery stores and things like that out in the out in the suburbs and some of these towns where we go to play.”
Bus trips, hotel rooms and strip malls.
And a little bit of baseball.
And sleep on Mondays.
That’s the scheduled off-day each week.
Broadcasters, like the players, earn their way to the bigs.
Story by Chris Graham